Return to play guidance from government agencies and sport governing bodies continues to evolve.
Some sport national governing bodies have recently published government-approved action plans and guidance on safe return to play. Many others are working hard to progress their plans and garner similar approval in the coming weeks.
Government advice and guidance is likely to evolve further as restrictions continue to change, so we will continue to review and update our plans accordingly. As a part of this, we are currently investigating the support we may be able to provide institutions that wish to deliver inter-university sport in term one.
We are currently investigating an ‘opt-in’ competition offer for BUCS teams, to run between late October and the Christmas break. The offer would be free to all teams entered into the BUCS leagues which are due to start in January 2021, and would be delivered on a much more flexible basis. While our main league competition is still scheduled for term two, we hope that this offer may be of interest to enable students to return to play as soon as they are ready.
To enable us to fully model the potential offer, we are looking to understand what interest teams have in competing in an ‘opt-in’ competition format in term one. We will be doing this by emailing Institutional Administrators directly. If you believe you should have received this email but haven’t, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to our league based competition, our Events Team are continuing work on the calendar of individual event activity beginning in term one. These events may look different from previous years as we focus on delivering them in-line with new safety guidelines. It is still the intention to publish the calendar by the end of August to allow institutions to understand the full BUCS Competition offer.
Despite the current uncertainty around what sport will look like in the future, we will make sure that BUCS is ready when the time comes to return to play.
We have been working hard, in partnership with our members, to develop the right strategies to enable students to return to physical activity and sport as soon as the time is right to do so.
There will be further considerations over the coming weeks, but following extensive consultation with our members, we have made some decisions regarding BUCS competition next season.
Leagues and Knockouts Programme
Next season, the majority of BUCS leagues will take place between January and April 2021. The only exception will be outdoor cricket, which will remain in Term 3.
The decision to focus on Term 2 is a result of feedback from our members, who want to be able to support students in their preparation for returning to competitive team sport.
The 2020-21 season will be considered a ‘bridging season’ with no promotion or relegation at the conclusion of competition. League standings from 2019-20 will be used to create the 2021-22 league structures for those institutions who maintain affiliation to BUCS in 2020-21.
Please note, the size of leagues, and the inclusion of cup knockout competitions alongside the league programme, is still under review.
We have been working with our delivery partners and national governing bodies to assess the viability of our programme of over 120 events, and we plan to release the full calendar of 2020-21 BUCS Events by Friday 28 August 2020.
We are still including Term 1 dates within our planning, in the hopes that we will be able to offer activity should it be safe and appropriate to do so.
We are exploring the viability of expanding existing offers within sports that best lend themselves to social distancing guidelines. We are also considering innovative ideas, such as virtual activity, to broaden the demographic of students engaging with BUCS competition.
Our aim is to remain as flexible as possible and be able to react to the changing landscape, which will ultimately dictate when it is safe to return to play.
League and Knockout
After consultation with institutions and the management group, the decision has been made to postpone the start of the LUSL league and knockout activity until term 2. The team entry window will open and run alongside the BUCS team entry process, starting from stage 2 on July 24th.
Events and Additional Activity
We will aim to deliver a LUSL events programme in Term 1. We will look to keep all LUSL Members actively engaged throughout the upcoming season and are exploring a variety of options to provide as much additional activity as possible. All events will be evaluated to ensure that they are safe, feasible and have demand from the students.
We are working closely with the Fédération Internationale du Sport Universitaire (FISU) and the European Sports Association (EUSA), to continue to explore opportunities to provide opportunities for GB students to compete in international competition during the 2020-21 season.
We have continued to develop our competition management platform, BUCS Play, to offer a significantly enhanced experience next season.
We have surveyed 90,000 students about their intentions, concerns and expectations around sport and physical activity, ahead of returning to their places of study.
In the absence of in-person physical activity and sport, we have also developed an activity finder platform to support our #GetBUCSActive campaign. This platform enables university staff and students to access a range of live and on-demand physical activity content from our network of member institutions.
As we move forward with our planning, we will continue to engage our members and partners, and will share all the information we can over the next few weeks and months.
In the near future, we will host more forums and seminars to support all those involved in higher education sport and physical activity. This will include providing more opportunities for students to help shape our offering.
We will ensure that higher education sport remains accessible to everyone who wants to take part, and that health and safety remains at the forefront of everything. We look forward to overcoming these challenges with our members and seeing higher education sport once again thrive.
We would like to thank all members, partners and students for their continued support and understanding during these difficult times. We understand the importance of student sport in shaping the university experience and are looking forward to welcoming competition back when safe to do so.